08/17/2006 05:05 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Quick Action in the Big Easy

New Orleans, LA -- As the first Anniversary of Katrina looms, there is at least one piece of good news for the horrendously abused citizens of New Orleans: Mayor Ray Nagin announced yesterday that he is shutting down the controversial Chef Menteur landfill, on the grounds that its emergency operating permit had expired. The controversial landfill has posed a serious threat to the neighboring Vietnamese community of Versailles. Nagin had earlier asserted that the landfill was safe, and even now refuses to say otherwise. Meanwhile, the state of Louisiana continues to want it open. But the combination of an outraged community and a Sierra Club lawsuit, filed last week, persuaded the Mayor to shut down at least one of many toxic hazards still plaguing the city. It's not often you can get results from the system just by filing a lawsuit, but it's a wonderful feeling when it works.

This Is What the Scientists Told Us Global Warming Would Be Like

The Earth Policy Institute issued a report projecting that 250,000 people who had evacuated Louisiana from Katrina would never return, meaning that the United States now has its first big wave of environmental refugees, joining nations like Haiti, Mexico, and Iraq where entire regional ecosystems have so badly collapsed that a significant part of their population has been forced to leave. But, the Institute asserts, the US is now the first country in the world to experience a serious wave of "global warming refugees."

And This Is What We Can Do About It

The City of Springfield, Illinois, has agreed that it will slash the city's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 25 percent below its 2005 levels and meet the Kyoto Protocol target (7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012). The city's agreement to cut its CO2 emissions by 600,000 tons annually is more stringent than required by any other state in the Union. Springfield also agreed to get into the renewable energy business in a big way, and shut down two old, polluting coal-fired power plants. These steps forward came as the result of a Sierra Club lawsuit against a proposed new, pulverized coal power plant, followed by extensive negotiations. Under the agreement, the new plant will proceed, but the net effect of the total package will be a dramatic reduction in Springfield's CO2 emissions. There's more than one way to save a planet.